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Sustainable Energy Education and Research 4 All



Development is not possible without energy. Currently, more than 2.7 billion people cook and heat with solid fuels, and more than one billion people lack access to electricity. Against this background, the UN has declared energy to be the 7th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 7): By 2030 access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy should be ensured for all. In order to achieve this goal, cooperation and young professionals in science and practice are needed. Universities play a central role in this. The TU Berlin is one of the largest universities in Germany and energy is one of its six main areas of research. Since decades, various faculties have been engaged in individual, often award-winning research and teaching activities dedicated to the energy issues of the Global South. The ZEWK is a central service and contact point of the TU Berlin for interested people and partners on questions of further academic education and cooperation. The SEER4All Initiative was implemented by ZEWK, to spread the above-named research results within and outside the TU and to develop new transdisciplinary projects in collaboration with experts. In the years from 2017 to 2018, a symposium, a lecture series, a guided tour through an exhibition as well as a series of workshops with internal and external experts were conducted. To conclude, a three-day final conference was held in December of 2018.

Initial Symposium (21.02.2017)

The initial symposium was structured in three blocks: socio-political dimensions, current research at TU Berlin and lastly, alternative education at institutions for higher education. The topic Sustainable Energy Systems could be examined adequately from these three perspectives. Each block was finalized with a panel discussion which was open for the participants’ questions: “What can the TU Berlin contribute to achieve the climate goals?”, questions concerning the PhDs’ research intention and “How can the subject of sustainable Energy Systems be better integrated in studies and teaching?”.

The keynote speakers enriched the symposium with the following subjects: "From Rio de Janeiro to the TU - Berlin - The long journey of energy as a motor for development"(Anja Rohde, GIZ), "The role of the developing countries in the Global Climate Change Debate" (Reiner Braun, NatWiss) and "The Globalisation of Energy in the Context of Climate Change and Security " (Prof. Dr. Jürgen Scheffran, University of Hamburg).

Furthermore, 20 initiatives (among others “Engineers Without Borders”, the “project workshop energy and development” and the “energy seminar”) had time to present themselves with an information booth and on stage in order to enter into a discussion with the participants.

Lecture series (7.02. - 13.02.2017)

In the context of the lecture series, various research projects and other initiatives which are working on the topic energy in the Global South at the TU Berlin, got the chance to present themselves extensively and were open to the audience’s questions and inspirations. The presenters focused especially on their activities in the context of SDG7 or more precisely SDG7a (“By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology”). Furthermore, possible actions and cooperation options for the audience were presented.

In the course of the lecture series the following presentations and ensuing discussions were conducted:

  • PEPI – Progress out of Energy Poverty Index
  • Improved Cooking Stove in Peru
  • Development of an improved electrical model for designing renewable energy based microgrids for rural electrification
  • Microgrid Concepts with an Agent-Based Control Scheme in the Context of the Electrification in Off-Grid Areas
  • Investigating preferences for Clean Energy Technologies (CET) across households served by Microfinance
  • Sustainability assessment and the role of value chain interventions for energy access in rural Ethiopia
  • The history of electrification in Tanzania
  • Resources and sustainable energy
  • TEREFIC-Decentral use of solar energy
  • Rural electrification planning


"Energy Transition Workshop" in cooperation with the European Energy Students’ Network (EESN)

European Energy Students’ Network (EESN) emerges as a task force covering multidisciplinary areas to help select a set of mechanisms to address the energy transition challenges. Therefore, ESSN organizes an annual conference where students and young professionals from different energy fields come together to interact with industry experts, practitioners, academics and policy makers. The 2nd Annual Conference took place at the TU-Berlin from 19- 21 of May 2017 and was hosted by the MicroEnergy Systems Research Group.

The conference addressed the topic of possible future world energy scenarios and aimed to encourage the future energy leaders to sharpen their skills with experiential learning. The participants had to work in teams to draft a project proposal to tackle one key problem in one area of the energy system. The participants worked in small multidisciplinary, international teams to try to identify a potential solution for a key energy challenge.

The Workshop - led by Lia Strange, PhD at TU Berlin and Engineer at MicroEnergy International -was split into three main parts:

1) Challenge identification,

2) Project proposal,

3) Common project discussion.

During the first part, all the participants brainstormed individually about the challenges to steer the energy transition towards a more sustainable and globally fair direction. Challenges were attributed to the transportation, electricity, or building (e.g. heating and cooling) systems or labelled as system-wide challenges. Participants were encouraged to summarize their ideas in a few words and stick them around the room in one of the four challenges’ areas. After a few minutes, the participants started discovering what others had written and similar ideas were clustered together.

Once a significant amount of challenges were identified, participants were split into multidisciplinary, international teams to discuss together one challenge and come up with a project proposal to address it. In this second part of the workshop, they were asked to come up with an action plan detailing some key parts of the project such as the key stakeholders, or specific actions to implement the project. Participants enjoyed the rich discussions among the team members as a key element of the conference.

Finally, all teams got to present their ideas to the whole group and address the questions from other participants. Everyone quickly joined the discussion by suggesting improvements to the project proposals or pointing out barriers to avoid and drivers to make use of.

The biogas workshop - an example of interdisciplinary research and practical implementation:

The transfer of technical knowledge into social structures that do not correspond to one's own research environment is an important topic. How do you explain to a layperson how a solar lamp works? How do you ensure that this knowledge is communicated at eye level when language is a barrier? In order to deal with these questions, the biogas workshop was launched in May 2017. Since then, 10 international students of the TUB have met regularly at the educational institution Naturwacht Marienfelde to repair a biogas plant. The experiences made there with communication, technology and various know-how are collected and then visually presented in a manual. The handbook is intended to help other researchers and activists and raise their awareness of possible difficulties in communicating.



2-days Workshop "Energize the Base of the Pyramid Workshop" (24.03.2017 – 27.03.2017)

The workshops were aimed at the connection between energy and technology providers. Practical instructions for designing and developing inclusive business models were part of these interactive workshops. It displayed a unique opportunity for networking between international students and researchers and to get into contact with possible companies, experts, and donors. The participants presented their own research in the first block of the workshop and in the second block a group with a project was chosen to be examined regarding its practical feasibility and potential difficulties.

Final Symposium

The final symposium consisted of three parts:

  1. The presentation about the dynamics of the global energy transformation in the context of the agenda 2030: Three experts from science and practice and informed about the agenda 2030, the dynamics of the energy transformation in the global south and north as well as the current state of research along the example of energy storage. Since energy storage is a key technology for achieving the Sustainable Development 7.
  2. A presentation about learning, doing research, and working in a global context – between colonial traces and international partnerships on eye-to-eye level to increase the sensitivity for racism and colonial continuity in the context of international cooperation.
  3. A panel discussion dealing with the contribution of academics to achieve the UN Sustainable Development goals.

Visit of the exhibition „zurückGESCHAUT“ (12.12.2018)

The start of the SEER4All conference was in form of a guided tour through the special exhibition “zurückGESCHAUT” in the museum Treptow.The exhibition dealt with the abysses of the German and Berlin colonial history and this also formed the framework for the final conference. The target of this theme complex was to get a more critical view on colonial traces in the world of development work and subsequently, to enable learning, teaching, creating, working and doing research in a global context in partnership-based, solidary and discrimination-free way.

The exhibition “zurückGESCHAUT” is a permanent exhibition dealing with the history of colonialism, racism, and resistance. It is the result of a cooperation of Black People in Germany and Berlin Postcolonial e.V.  initiated by the district museum Treptow.

Parallel Workshops - "Deepening the final conference" (13.12.2018)

In the afternoon of the 13th of December 2018 three parallel workshops were offered, which were building upon the final conference which was taking place in the morning. The subsequent workshops deepened the following topics which were first addressed in the conference:

Workshop 1: “100% Renewable Energies everywhere! Why actually?”: This workshop was conducted as a simulation game. The participants had the chance to familiarize themselves with specific fields of the global energy transformation with the support of different experts. The specific topics were:

  • Seawater desalination in the MENA region
  • Electrification of rural areas in Ethiopia,
  • Coal exit in the German part of Lusatia (a region located in Germany (south of Brandenburg, east of Saxony) and Poland, which is known for its lignite opencast mines and power plants)  
  • Implementing a personal energy transformation at home and in the Kiez (the term “Kiez” is mainly used in berlin for city neighbourhood)

The topics and the most important actors were introduced by the supporting experts. In the following, the participants had to act as the different players and define their own position based on their research. Thereby, the following exemplary roles came up “Tunisian energy minister”, “unionist of the Lusatia”, “woman from Berlin who does not want to live without her car”, “Ethiopian small entrepreneur, in a region without power”. As the next step, a moderated panel discussion in the fishbowl format was conducted, dealing with the question “100% Renewable Energies everywhere! Why actually?”. Participants could present the positions of various actors and with that get to know and understand the broad range of perspectives.

Workshop 2: Colonial traces – “A critical view on the development(s) & work”: The workshop was connected to the presentation about colonial continuity as well as to the visited exhibition “Colonial Traces” which dealt with the abysses of the German and Berlin colonial history as explained below. The participants were to follow the question about how development work and colonialism are connected. The focus was put on a critical self-reflection. Where can we find colonial traces in our daily life today, in the so-called partnership-based projects and in the economics system? And how does our imagination and perspectives of “us” and “them” influence our work and interpersonal encounters? In form of a discussion with various interesting aspects, the participants were able to get a deeper understanding of colonial traces and their effectiveness

Workshop 3: “SEER4All companies, start-ups and activism”: The workshop showed concrete fields of action regarding the energy transformation. Different initiatives, companies and start-ups were invited: Bürger Energie Berlin, Clisciety, Ende Gelände, ERNIE Windradkollektiv, Hedera. Within small groups, the participants discussed how initiatives and start-ups which are characterized by activism are able to learn from each other in the matters of external perception, organization and financing and as well how possible contradictions can be solved concerning authenticity vs. financing as well as activism vs lobbyism in the energy transformation. Together with the guests, the participants had to think about how workplaces can emerge from protest forms in the energy transformation and had to come up with new ideas and to discuss their implementation.

Swarm Seminar (14.12.2018)

At the third and last day of the final SEE4All conference, interested participants were invited to a swarm seminar. The swarm seminar is a collaborative working group part of MicroEnergy Systems research group, where experts, students and professors gather to exchange ideas, develop research topics, supervise bachelor, masters and PhDs and develop conference material on the topic of the global energy system transformation. Research results from their early work, new research ideas and methods were presented by the members. Participants had the chance to comment the work, ask questions and to point out other projects and cooperation interests and new opportunities.

The focal point of the research agenda is the topic of “Swarm electrification”. It deals with an evolutionary approach of energy infrastructure, whereby individual, existing, and new power consumptions, power storage and power generation pathways are connected with each other. Therefore, a network-economy is created, based on “prosumerism” and local value creation.

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